Today we see our Lord among a hungry crowd. There are more than five thousand people gathered around him in a deserted place. They are hungry and there is little to no food, only five loaves of bread and two fish. This is not the first time God has heard the cries of hunger. In the Book of Exodus, the people of Israel were in the “wilderness” and were hungry. God sent them “manna.” In the Book of Numbers, Israel again complained of their hunger, remembering the fish they ate in Egypt. To their cry, God gave them quail. Christ hears their need and responds:
And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
It is clear that God hears and knows our needs. God sometimes responds directly and concretely, as with the feeding of the five thousand, while other times, indirectly and subtly. No matter in which way, we are able to see how God feeds, nurtures and cares for us, as his children. In what way does God continue to hear our cry of hunger here at Lourdes? And in what way does he seek to take care of us?
We may not be wandering in the “wilderness,” or remembering the fish we ate in Egypt or sitting in a deserted place, but like those in the Bible, we are hungry. And we are hungry for a very particular thing. If you watch Hollywood movies, listen to popular music, read novels or just hear the needs of your heart, what becomes obvious to us is that we long for love. We may long for love in family, romance or friendship, but so too do we all long for a love that comes from “on high” and from within. We all long for a love that is never lost nor ever ended. We all long for an eternal love, that is, we all long for the love of God our Father. As in the case of the People of Israel and the five thousand, God hears and knows our need, and so God feeds, nurtures and cares for us.
In the Second Reading, Saint Paul reminds us of the words the Lord spoke at the Last Supper. Jesus took the bread and said, “This is my Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When he took the cup he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my Blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” At the end of the passage, Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” The Body and Blood of the Lord, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, is both a concrete and subtle response to our need and hunger for love. In proclaiming his death we are proclaiming his love. And not just any love, but a very particular love – a love that gives all and a love that does not end. No matter what happens in one’s life, the eternal action of God’s full loving in the Eucharist is never lost. It is offered by our Father to you always. When you receive Communion, you are receiving the infinite love of the Father within your heart.